14 years have passed since I last saw her alive but I still miss her and I am always reminded of her by the people I meet, the shows I watch, the little things I see.
There are times when I would wonder-- what if she was still alive? What would she be doing? I know she would be the richest because she was very prudent with money. I know she would have dragged me 2-3x more than the places I have visited because she was more adventurous. I know she would have talked sense to me whenever I fret or worry because she was level-minded. She was younger than me but that didn't deter her from telling me that me being her senior doesn't mean I will always be right. She was that cheeky but I was not affected because she was also my best friend.
When I was a newbie teacher she shared to me the lessons she learned from her college psychology classes and berated me not to label people as I was prone to do before. Up to now, whenever I look for clothing or a pair of shoes, I'd look at what I had in mind - simple, elegant, simple, beautiful, simple - and so I browse and browse and browse and then in my mind, I would hear her voice saying - "you want something simple yet it's so complicated for you to get it." You see she was always with me when I went shopping before and I would drag her to all the stores before settling to buy.
My sister was practical but funny and a bit of a prankster. She knows how to be "malambing" and she would fetch me from work and let me buy her fries - cheese flavored or sour cream. We'd walk going home. It was a long stretch but that was how we shared more stories even if we were roommates.
She would tell me about her day, her friends and told detailed stories. She told me I was a better storyteller and should I want to write, I should (still in the things to do category for me). Most summers were spent at home cross stitching, reading books or helping mom with her extra income projects.
She was frail when we were young. She was physically small but she grew tough and had a strong mind. She knew what she wanted.
It was a terrible loss when tragedy struck.
But we were always reminded she is in our midst.
A few days after my sister died,our house was full of grief. But we noticed a little green grasshopper on top of our cabinet where we store our china and where we put our African Violet plants. When we visited the cemetery, we saw again another small green grasshopper above her tomb.
*Image courtesy of Google Images
Every time there is an important occasion, we saw one. Being Igorots who believe that the grasshopper might represent her visiting, we took special care that we just leave the little insect and not bother or kill it. Sightings of this special creature became less and less as time went by.
When my husband was still my boyfriend, I told him about this little grasshopper thing. I couldn't believe what I saw when he called me to their kitchen one morning and pointed to me a little grasshopper a few days after being married. So, she came to check my new family. This was 6 years ago.
My last visit from our little grasshopper was last year - when I was 2-3 months pregnant and my husband was overseas. I had a delicate first trimester and being separated with my husband for the longest time was a bit difficult to bear. I was also emotional due to my hormones. And that was when our little creature visited me when I was about to cry ( I resist not to so as not to upset Little Pia who was still a nugget in my tummy that time). The little grasshopper was standing on our floor tiles.
When my baby was born last year, she was 33 weeks premature.. a premie just like my late sister. It was tough because we had to spend another week at the hospital, a month after I gave birth and stayed for 12 days for her to be at the NICU, to have her treated this time with aspiration pneumonia. It was hard. I prayed. And in my mind, I talked to my sister to be the guardian angel of my child. To be her protector and watch over her. We are blessed since my baby recovered well. Last year, we went out from the hospital on December 16.
So, yes this date - December 16 -the start of simbang gabi and Christmas carols is truly special.. and it always reminds me of our little grasshopper :)